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Gloucestershire Business News

330 jobs at risk as major development project shelved

A question mark hangs over 330 jobs and the future of a Gloucestershire firm after its Japanese owner shelved plans to help build the nation's next generation of nuclear power plants.

Thousands more promised jobs are also now looking increasingly unlikely.

It is no secret Hitachi was threatening to pull the plug on its involvement in the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant build, and has been in negotiations with Government.

In a sector where high-profile brinkmanship seems the order of the day it may have felt to some this could always go one of two ways, but Hitachi has lived up to its words.

This morning its Gloucester-headquartered business, Horizon, set up to manage its involvement in the UK, issued a statement which refers to the decision having "a significant impact for all involved with our project".

Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Horizon Nuclear Power, which is also pulling its involvement in the nuclear power plant site at Oldbury, in South Gloucestershire, said: "We have made very strong progress on all aspects of the project's development, including the UK design of our tried and tested reactor, supply chain development and especially the building of a very capable organisation of talented and committed people.

"We have been in close discussions with the UK Government, in cooperation with the Government of Japan, on the financing and associated commercial arrangements for our project for some years now.

"I am very sorry to say that despite the best efforts of everyone involved we've not been able to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all concerned.

"As a result we will be suspending the development of the Wylfa Newydd project, as well as work related to Oldbury, until a solution can be found.

"In the mean-time we will take steps to reduce our presence but keep the option to resume development in future."

Horizon Nuclear Power was founded in 2009 and has its headquartered in Brockworth on the Arlington Gloucester Business Park where it employs an estimated 330 staff. It also has 30-plus apprentices on its books.

Once operational its power station sites will employ up to 850 people each with construction workforces of up to 9,000.

He added: "Clearly this will have a significant impact for all involved with our project. We will look to minimise this as much as possible as we move into this next phase and we will begin consultation on the implications immediately with our staff who have shown extraordinary talent, resilience and determination to take this complex and exciting project to this stage.

"We will also engage closely with the many international and UK-based stakeholders who have strongly supported the project's development, especially our lead host community of Anglesey in Wales, represented by the Isle of Anglesey County Council and Welsh Government, and the key representatives around Oldbury."

"Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey remains the best site for nuclear development in the UK and we remain committed to keeping channels of communication open with the Government and our other key stakeholders regarding future options at both our sites."

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